Written by Godfrey AKON

TETFund mops up N10bn unutilised funds

The Tertiary Education Trust Fund, TETFund, has recovered N10 billion unutilised funds earlier approved for intervention to public tertiary institutions.

Executive Secretary of the Fund, Prof Suleiman Bogoro, said institutions to which the money was allocated failed to utilise it for close to 9 years.

Bogoro, who spoke in Abuja when the House of Reps Committee on Tertiary Education and Services paid an oversight visit to the Fund, also decried poor execution of projects by beneficiary institutions.

He said TETFund was conscious that delay in utilisation of funds, in just a matter of two years, could lead to a drop in the value of monies allocated, adding that the money would be reassigned to institutions that are prepared to develop.

The TETFund boss disclosed that a committee would be set up to carry out an on-the-spot assessment of projects in all beneficiary institutions to ensure proper use of funds and standard of project execution.

He also lamented the depletion of education pool account by the federal government, stating that a total sum of N359 billion was removed from the account by the federal government between 2013 and 2018, a development which has slowed down TETFund’s intervention to tertiary institutions.

According to him, N263.9 billion was taken out between September and December of 2013 by the then government, while N58 billion was taken in 2017 and N40 billion in 2018 without the consent of TETFund.

“Once FIRS sends our money to the education pool account, it’s at CBN we have no access to it unless and until at the end of the year it posted to our intervention account where we are signatories. Now with the TSA from 2015, you know a lot more things have changed.

“Having said that, the other two subsequent withdrawals N28 billion, 59 billion and N30 billion, it brings the total to N359 billion at the moment that has been taken out. And of that amount, there is about N128 billion that was taken out for nothing related to education at all. It may interest you to know,” he said.

Bogoro said when he was first appointed the Executive Secretary of the Fund in 2014, he sent a letter to the minister of finance requesting for a refund of TETFund money because they said it was borrowed; while calling on the National Assembly to help with the recovery of the fund.

On the performance of the TETFund budget, he said the fund has never overshot its budget limits, assuring the committee that the Fund has always lived within the realm of responsible expenditure management.

Bogoro further disclosed that the fund will henceforth invest massively on research and less of physical infrastructure so as to improve the ratings and rankings of Nigerian universities and to deepen the relevant areas that deepen competitiveness of Nigerian institutions.

“We cannot continue to emphasise teaching at the expense of research, that’s the area we are investing in massively. For too long, TETFund have been associated mainly with buildings, we want a paradigm shift, not to suggest that we will stop providing physical infrastructure, we need them.

“We introduced postdoctoral support for the purposes of undertaking postdoctoral research as well as benchwork. We are hoping that the approval of TETFund centre of excellence, we believe that if we deepen intervention in the right areas in research, manuscript development, ICT, Journals production, conference attendance, that will be the right way to proceed,” he said.

 

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